The Official Blog of Graceland

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm!

Guest Blog: ‘Speedway’ Turns 50

June 12, 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Elvis Presley’s movie “Speedway.” Here is a special blog by his youngest co-star, Victoria Paige Meyerink, as she shares some of her memories of working with the king. by Victoria Paige Meyerink Being in the film business is unlike any other. The bonds formed during production last a lifetime and, in Elvis’ case, beyond. When I was cast as Ellie Easterlake in “Speedway” I knew the project was special and that it would be a great experience… I had no idea that from that moment on, Elvis Presley would become a huge part of my life and career forever. They cast me without even auditioning and I recall the first time I met Elvis was at a rehearsal for our number “Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet, Baby” on an MGM soundstage. Of course I knew of Elvis! I was excited about meeting him and that we’d be working together for weeks. I had already worked with huge celebrities like Danny Kaye, Rock Hudson and Clint Walker and considered Elvis a fellow actor and professional. We were there to make a movie together. So when we were introduced, a very formal almost-7-year-old extended her hand and said, “Hello, Mr. Presley!” He replied, “Hello, Victoria! This is going to be fun!” The cast included Bill Bixby, Nancy Sinatra and everyone’s favorite film/TV dad, William Schallert. Bill Bixby was at that first rehearsal, too. Bill and I had met previously on the Paramount lot, and I was very happy to see him again. Even though Elvis did ask me over lunch who I would marry – him or Bill Bixby – I didn’t know Elvis as an adult. I love that I had the privilege of knowing Elvis when I was just 7 years old… I gained a unique perspective, different from all his other co-stars over the years. Elvis and I got to play together in the MGM sandbox and we had a terrific time. That Elvis seemed to prefer hanging out with me on the set and lunching together is flattering. I got the impression he really enjoyed being a big kid, making my little books with me, playing cards between scenes and rehearsals, and feeding the tiny kitten in my trailer (I had sneaked kitty onto the set in a shoebox). Anyone could tell he’d be a terrific...
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Elvis and Chet ‘Mr. Guitar’ Atkins

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll never made music by himself. He worked with some of the best musicians, singers, songwriters, producers and engineers in the business. All of these talents combined to bring some of the most influential and groundbreaking music to the ears of music fans around the world. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’ve covered several of the incredible talents who worked with Elvis, including Floyd Cramer, Blue Moon Boys, Sam Phillips, and The Jordanaires. This week, we’re getting to know musician, producer and songwriter Chet Atkins, better known as Mr. Guitar or The Country Gentleman. Chet Atkins was born in Luttrell, Tennessee, in 1924. He loved music from a young age and started playing the ukulele as a child. He later moved on to the fiddle and then the guitar – which quickly became his favorite instrument. He practiced and practiced, and by the time he was in high school, he was an accomplished guitar player. He began to develop his own style in 1939 after hearing musician Merle Travis on the radio. Travis’ style was called “Travis Picking,” and Atkins was inspired. He soon began his music career, and it was slow going for a few years until he was signed by RCA Victor in 1947. Atkins wore many hats during his career. He recorded his own music, assisted recording executive Steve Sholes as a session leader, manged RCA Victor’s Nashville Studio (eventually seeing the completion of RCA Studio B, where many artists, including Elvis, recorded their hits), and became a design consultant for Gretsch, a guitar manufacturer. He wrote songs and was a session musician, too. Steve Sholes took over pop production in 1957, as Elvis’ career took off, so he put Atkins in charge of RCA’s Nashville division. Atkins, along with producers Bob Ferguson and Owen Bradley, created what would become known as the “Nashville Sound” – less of a rough, honky tonk sound, and more of a polished, sophisticated sound with strings, choruses and background vocals. This smooth sound allowed country artists to crossover to more of a pop sound and appeal to a wider audience. Atkins enjoyed a long career in music, and he worked with some of the best in the business. He recorded his own albums, which featured him performing a mix of country, jazz and pop standards. He was never afraid to mix things up and experiment. As vice president...
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Elvis Presley’s #1 Hits – Part 6

Elvis Presley earned the title of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll thanks to his endless work inside the studio, on the stage and on the big screen. Elvis topped the charts again and again – if you need the proof, check out his wall of awards at Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland. Here on the Graceland Blog, we’re digging deep to go behind the scenes of Elvis’ biggest hits – in fact, we’re up to part 6. Check out part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. Which of these following Elvis hits is your favorite? “Too Much” Now you got me started Don’t you leave me broken-hearted ‘Cause I love you too much This jaunty hit was written by Lee Rosenberg and Bernard Weinman. It was recorded by other artists first, such as Bernard Hardison. Elvis recorded the track on September 2, 1956 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, where he would often record his movie soundtracks. The Jordanaires provided background vocals, Scotty Moore was on guitar, Bill Black was on bass, D.J. Fontana played the drums and Gordon Stoker of the Jordanaires played the piano. The engineer was Thorne Nogar, who was very respected in the industry, and Elvis enjoyed working with him. “Too Much” was released as a single in January 1957 with “Playing for Keeps” on the other side. It hit No. 1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart, where it stayed for three weeks, with a total chart run of 17 weeks. It also reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B and country singles charts, and it ran on those charts for 10 weeks and 14 weeks, respectively. It peaked at No. 6 on the British pop singles chart. “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” You taught me how to love And now you say that we are through I’m a fool, but I’ll love you dear Until the day I die Elvis added a healthy dose of the blues to this country song to create his own hit single. “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I” was written by Bill Trader and was recorded by Hank Snow in 1952. Elvis recorded it several years later, on June 10, 1958. He was on leave from the army and it was his only recording session during his two-year stint of active service. Elvis...
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Elvis Presley in the Lone Star State

When you think of Elvis Presley, you think of Tennessee and Mississippi – the state of his beloved home, and the state in which he was born. But another important state for the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is Texas. Outside of his standing engagements at the Las Vegas Hilton, the highest number of Elvis’ performances while touring occurred in the state of Texas. Elvis performed in Texas approximately 138 times from 1954-1977. Texas saw the young King of Rock ‘n’ Roll as he began his career, and welcomed him back with record-breaking crowds in the ’70s. Most of his Texas concerts took place in 1955, as he performed on the Louisiana Hayride. The radio show covered the east side of the state, and these early concerts provided Elvis and his band the opportunity to perfect their live shows. The Louisiana Hayride concerts led Elvis to perform in many small towns, especially in Texas. He and his band often performed in more than one city and more than one venue per day, so they often had to race from one stage to another. Elvis performed a whopping 308 times in 1955, and a fourth of those performances took place in the Lone Star State. Elvis’ tour schedule changed and slowed over the next few years, as he left the Louisiana Hayride, released his first album, made TV appearances and began making movies (and, of course, as he was inducted into the Army – but more on that in a bit).   Elvis spent much of the 60s making movies, and he returned to the stage in 1969 with his Las Vegas residency. His first shows outside Vegas were in Texas in early 1970. From February 27, 1970 – March 1, 1970, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll performed six shows at Houston’s Astrodome as part of the Texas Livestock Show. He made an impression when he entered the building for the first show – he circled the arena in an open Jeep, waving and greeting fans. He broke his previous attendance record with the February 27 evening show, with a crowd of 36,299 – which was 10,000 more than his previous record. The evening crowd on February 28 was another record breaker – 43,614 – which also set a record for indoor rodeo performances in any arena. Elvis gave a press conference before his first and after his last Houston shows in 1970. At the...
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Designing Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Last week, you took our quiz to find out what room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland matches your personality. Are you as playful as the Pool Room? Do you want to geek out in the TV Room? Wanna go wild in the Jungle Room? If you missed the quiz, no worries – you can take it here. This week, we’re going to go a little more in-depth into the Graceland rooms featured in the personality quiz to learn more about their design. Thousands of Elvis fans took the Which Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality? quiz, and more than 33% of responders most identify with the Living Room. Trends came and went in the twenty years that Elvis lived at Graceland, and Elvis redecorated Graceland to match the times and his own personal taste. In the Living Room, the custom 15-foot sofa and 10-foot coffee table, matching end tables and a few other pieces offered a classic look, and they were in the Living Room from 1957 through the summer of 1974, when he redecorated (more on that in a minute). He often changed upholstery, carpet, paint, drapery and other accessories always evolved. The blue drapes that you now see on tour in Graceland are from the later 1960s-mid 1970s. During the Christmas season, the blue drapes were replaced with vibrant, festive red drapes – a tradition that remains true at Graceland every holiday season today. In 1974, Elvis redecorated the Living Room with dramatic French Provencal furniture décor, including red carpet, red velvet furniture and red satin draperies. This look remained in place until the mansion opened for tours in 1982. The decision was made then to bring the older furnishings out of storage and return the Living Room – along with the Music and Dining Rooms – back to the way they were during most of the years Elvis lived at Graceland. Furniture and other details from the Living Room’s red redecoration are now on display in the Trophy Building. The famous stained-glass peacocks in the living room were added in 1974. Elvis, a student of religion, added them as peacocks were an ancient Christian symbol of eternal life and resurrection. Nearly 27% of people who took our What Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality? quiz got a wild result: the famous Jungle Room. Elvis never called the Jungle Room by that name; to him, it was just the den....
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Which Room at Graceland Matches Your Personality?

Whether you’re as colorful as the Pool Room, as elegant as the Living Room or as exotic as the Jungle Room, there’s a room at Elvis Presley’s Graceland that perfectly matches your personality. Take the quiz below to find out which room fits you, and be sure to tune in to next week’s Graceland Blog when we learn more about each of the rooms featured in the quiz. Don’t forget to go to Graceland.com to start planning your Graceland experience, so you can experience these rooms for yourself!...
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Elvis Presley’s ‘If I Can Dream’

There must be lights burning brighter somewhere Got to be birds flying higher in a sky more blue If I can dream of a better land Where all my brothers walk hand in hand Tell me why, oh why, oh why can’t my dream come true… April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis. Dr. King’s assassination, as well as that of U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy, affected Elvis Presley deeply. These feelings led Elvis to give one of the most passionate performances of his career. America was in the midst of an upheaval in 1968. The Civil Rights movement was in full swing and our world and culture were changing. Within a short span of time, two leaders were assassinated. Dr. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, in Memphis – Elvis’ hometown. Robert Kennedy, a US Senator who strongly supported human rights and social justice, was killed two months later, on June 6. It was Elvis’ reaction to the news of Kennedy’s assassination that lead to the creation of the song “If I Can Dream,” a tribute song to King, featuring direct quotes from the Civil Rights leader. In the spring of ’68, Elvis was working on his upcoming TV special, “Elvis.” After seeing the news about Kennedy’s death on TV, Elvis spent an entire night with the show’s director, Steve Binder, and his friends, talking about the assassinations and Elvis’ wishes for the world. The conversation was heartfelt and honest, and Binder believed Elvis had an important message for the country. Binder then went to the show’s Musical Director Billy Goldenberg and songwriter Earl Brown and told them about the discussion. He wanted a powerful, meaningful song that would close out the TV special. Because the special was slated to air in December, the producers and Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, had planned to end the show with a Christmas song, but Binder had other ideas. It wasn’t long before “If I Can Dream” was born. Once the song was finished, Binder took the song to Elvis and played it for him. “Let me hear it again,” said Elvis, and the song was played again and again. “Okay,” Elvis said, “I’ll do it.” On June 23, 1968, Elvis recorded “If I Can Dream” in several impassioned takes, even though it is said that the first take Elvis gave was perfect. The king gave such a powerful...
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‘It Happened at the World’s Fair’ 55 Years Ago

“Elvis swinging higher than the Space Needle with the gals, the songs and the famous World’s Fair!” Elvis’ twelfth movie, “It Happened at the World’s Fair,” was released April 3, 1963, making this year its 55th anniversary. The musical comedy follows Mike (Elvis) and Danny (Gary Lockwood), crop duster pilots who travel to the World’s Fair in Seattle to pay off Danny’s gambling debts and to get their plane back from the local sheriff. Along the way, Danny plays poker to make some quick cash, and Mike woos a nurse, Diane (Joan O’Brien), and takes care of a little girl, Sue-Lin (Vicky Tiu), whose uncle has disappeared. “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was directed by Norman Taurog. The fair was called the Seattle Century 21 Exposition, so the name of the trailer park where Elvis’ character lived was called the “Center 21 Estates.” Many of the structures and buildings created for the fair are still used today in what’s now called the Seattle Center. The Space Needle, built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, is now a symbol for the city of Seattle, Washington. The 1962 World’s Fair drew millions of visitors from around the world. Child actress Vicky Tiu played Sue-Lin, the little girl Mike befriends and takes care of in the film. This was Vicky’s only movie role; as an adult, she became the first lady of Hawaii while her husband, Ben Cayetano, was the state’s governor. Yvonne Craig stars in “World’s Fair” as Dorothy. She later starred as Elvis’ leading lady in “Kissin’ Cousins,” and TV fans will recognize her as Batgirl from the 1960s TV show “Batman.” Actor Kurt Russell made his movie debut in “World’s Fair” as the “shin-kicker,” or “Boy Kicking Mike.” Russell was 10 at the time, and he’s featured in a small role where Mike asks him to kick him in the shins. Years later, he starred as Elvis in a TV movie biography. Elvis worked on the movie from late August through early November. Naturally, part of “It Happened at the World’s Fair” was filmed at the actual World’s Fair. Plenty of fans gathered near the film set to catch a glimpse of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. When he couldn’t make it outside, Elvis and his entourage stayed in their hotels and played pranks on the hotel staff. A favorite prank was to move all the furniture...
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60th Anniversary of Elvis’ Army Induction

In 1958, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll got a new job title: Private Presley. Just as Elvis’ fame was at its height, he stepped away from the stage, screen and studio to serve in the United States Army. This month, we’re celebrating the 60th anniversary of Elvis’ induction into the Army. We have some special things planned – more on that in a bit – but let’s get started on Elvis’ path to the military. Elvis’ first step toward the Army took place on January 4, 1957, as Elvis went to Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis for a pre-induction physical to determine his draft status.   On December 16, 1957, the Memphis Draft Board announced that Elvis would soon receive his draft notice. On the 19th, Elvis heard that his induction notice was waiting for him, so on December 20, he picked up his notice in person. He told reporters later that day that serving in the Army was “a duty I’ve got to fill and I’m going to do it.” On Christmas Eve, Elvis contacted the Memphis Draft Board to formally request a deferment for the filming of his new movie, which would be “King Creole,” “so these folks will not lose so much money, with all they have done so far,” Elvis said. His deferment was granted on December 26. Elvis’ last recording sessions before his Army induction took place in early February in Hollywood. After he completed those recording sessions and the movie wrapped, Elvis returned to Memphis on March 14. Upon his arrival, a reporter asked him how his parents were taking the news that he was about to go into the Army. He admitted his mother, Gladys, was nervous for him – as any mother would be. He was also asked if he thought his fame would fade during his absence. “That’s the sixty-four-dollar question,” Elvis replied. “I wish I knew.” Elvis made sure he had plenty of fun in his hometown before shipping off to the military. In the days leading up to his induction, he shopped for records at Pop Tunes in Memphis (not far from his old home at Lauderdale Courts) and purchased “Looking Back” by Nat King Cole, “Maybe” by the Chantels, “Return to Me” by Dean Martin, “Too Soon to Know” by Pat Boone, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” by Don Gibson and “Sweet Little Darling” by Jo...
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Elvis Presley’s Memphis Turns One

Here on the Graceland Blog, we celebrate a lot of big anniversaries – 60 years of Elvis’ debut album, 55 years of Elvis’ movies, like “Wild in the Country,” 50 years of the ’68 Special, 45 years of “Elvis on Tour,” 35 years of Graceland opening to the public and so on. It’s rare that we get to celebrate a one-year anniversary, but here we are. Graceland’s entertainment and exhibit complex, Elvis Presley’s Memphis, was opened a year ago this weekend. Elvis Presley’s Memphis is a state-of-the-art entertainment and exhibit complex over 200,000-square-feet in size, and it allows fans to follow Elvis’ life path. You can surround yourself with the things he loved and experience the sights and sounds of Memphis, the city that inspired him. The complex houses two massive Elvis museums – Presley Motors, which houses his unique cars, and Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the world’s largest Elvis museum dedicated to the king’s legendary career – as well as several Discovery exhibits. The Discovery exhibits cover many aspects of Elvis’ life and show how he impacted the world. You can follow Elvis into the Army at the Private Presley Exhibit, peek in Elvis’ closet in the Fashion King exhibit and dig deep into the Graceland Archives in the Archives Experience. Presley Motors has its own smaller exhibit, Presley Cycles, which showcases Elvis’ motorcycles, boats and other motorized toys. Icons: The Influence of Elvis Presley is a favorite exhibit of many younger Elvis fans, as it showcases artifacts from singers, actors and other stars who were influenced by Elvis. In Icons, you’ll see items Justin Timberlake, John Lennon, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, KISS, Bruce Springsteen, Trisha Yearwood, Dolly Parton and more. Head on down to the “Mystery Train: Celebrating Sam Phillips” exhibit to learn more about the man who helped discover Elvis Presley.   The complex also features a Soundstage, where guests can watch Elvis movies and concerts, Graceland’s new ticket office and several food options, including restaurants named after Elvis’ parents: Gladys’ Diner and Vernon’s Smokehouse. There’s also a sweets shop named after Elvis’ grandma, Minnie Mae. At EPM, you can also stop in on the SiriusXM Elvis Radio booth and request your favorite song, play Elvis trivia or just chat with a DJ. Priscilla Presley was on hand for the complex’s grand opening weekend. The weekend also featured performances by Memphis-area musicians and dancers. The...
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